A Dedication

No story about my experiences with breast cancer would be complete without including my association with the Internet. The Internet provided me with volumes of information on my disease. It filled in the blanks left by those early "deer-in-headlights" doctor appointments, when I was always minutes, sometimes hours behind in processing information. It showed me step-by-step what I could expect in my surgery and treatments. At times, it frightened me. But more than not, it gave me comfort, for on the Internet I found a sorority of women who were facing the same disease with the same questions and fears. I found women who were two steps ahead of me in treatment, willing to reach through their modems to guide me through my cancer odyssey. Best of all, I found women who needed me.

The THRIVE Health AOL Breast Cancer Message Board is a blessing to those of us struggling through diagnosis, treatments or coping with life after breast cancer. It is free; communication is its currency. The message board, nicknamed "Just Us," is a Godsend to those who post there. It gives women an opportunity to share experiences; it allows them an outlet to vent or let off steam. It provides a network resources: web sites, hospitals, physicians. It is a safe place. The "familiar anonymity" allows for candid remarks and viewpoints, without the body language associated with the communication. Best of all, it is open 24 hours a day and no questions are left unanswered; all emotions are validated.

Posting on the THRIVE Health AOL Breast Cancer Message Board has been as crucial to my emotional recovery from breast cancer as my chemotherapy was to my physical healing. It has given me a connection to others who are different, just like me. It has afforded me the opportunity to share my experiences and realize the therapeutic properties of writing. Each time I write words of comfort to a "newbie," a newly diagnosed woman, I am writing them to myself.

I have been blessed with a safety net, something to pick me up when I've been down; something to cradle me when I need comfort. Each one of us on the message board makes up a piece of the mesh that keeps the others from falling too far. I am surviving with a 'net - the Internet. I dedicate my story to the ladies of "Just Us."

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